Schlossberg on Baseball: Bobby Cox Headlines Baseball Cruise • Latino Sports

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Schlossberg on Baseball: Bobby Cox Headlines Baseball Cruise

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No matter what the Atlanta Braves do this season, the baseball season will extend into November for Bobby Cox.

US Tours has an exclusive deal on the new baseball cruise

US Tours has an exclusive deal on the new baseball cruise

The Hall of Fame manager, now a team consultant, agreed this week to join former sluggers Darrell Evans and Jay Johnstone in a nine-day baseball cruise to the Western Caribbean aboard the Norwegian Dawn.

Norwegian Dawn will host "Sluggers at Sea" in November

Norwegian Dawn will host “Sluggers at Sea” in November

Cox, whose Braves finished first for a record 14 straight seasons, will continue a tradition that began with the very first baseball theme cruise, aboard Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1981.

Since then, entrepreneurs and even teams have copied a format that obviously works: question-and-answer sessions, trivia contests, photo-and-autograph parties, and souvenir giveaways for participants.

The “Sluggers at Sea” cruise, created exclusively for US Tours, also includes a softball game with the stars, welcome and get-acquainted reception, onboard cocktail party, a baseball movie, and even a “surprise” birthday party for Johnstone, the notorious prankster and three-time author who turns 69 during the voyage.

The luxury liner leaves New Orleans with a Western Caribbean itinerary that includes Belize, Honduras, and two Mexican ports (Cozumel and Costa Maya). Dates of the cruise are Nov. 14-22, with a pre-cruise overnight at the Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport.

For participants, all meals, entertainment, taxes, fees, and gratuities are included, along with a group photo, hotel-to-ship transfers, and ship-to-airport transfers upon return.

DARRELL EVANS

Darrell Evans was the first man to have 40-homer seasons in both leagues

Between them, Cox, Evans, and Johnstone have won three World Series rings and represented 13 different teams. Cox served two different stints as Atlanta manager, with Joe Torre replacing him after the first one, and also piloted the Toronto Blue Jays for four years. It was under his direction that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz became the first trio of long-time pitching teammates to reach the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Cox also scouted, signed, and managed Chipper Jones, who spent his entire career with the Braves.

Evans, a disciple of Hall of Fame slugger Eddie Mathews, hit 414 home runs and was on base when Hank Aaron hit the home run that broke Babe Ruth’s record on April 8, 1974. He later became the first man to have 40-homer seasons in both leagues as well as the oldest player to win a home run crown. He led the American League with 40 home runs for Detroit in 1985, the year after he helped the Tigers win the World Series.

Johnstone, like Evans a lefthanded hitter, spent his career as an outfielder, prankster, and author. His books include

Jay Johnstone pinch-hit a key homer in the 1981 World Series

Jay Johnstone pinch-hit a key homer in the 1981 World Series

Temporary Insanity, Over the Edge, and Some of My Best Friends Are Crazy. He went to the postseason with the Dodgers, Phillies, and Yankees. Johnstone, later a Yankees broadcaster, pinch-hit a home run while helping the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the 1981 World Series.

Space is expected to fill up fast on the baseball cruise. Contact www.USTours.biz or call toll-free 888-393-8687.

Elsewhere in baseball:

New York tabloids may have been right to bash Mets management for tabbing rotund Bartolo Colon, a 41-year-old who took his licks in spring training, as their Opening Day starter . . .

Aren’t you surprised that nobody has signed Rafael Soriano or that anybody signed Rafael Furcal (Royals) and Randy Wolf (Blue Jays)? . . .

Yasmany Tomas could start the year in the minors

Yasmany Tomas could start the year in the minors

The Diamondbacks have ended their third base experiment with Yasmany Tomas, who figures to open the season as an outfielder in the minors . . .

Like a Brad Penny, he keeps popping up: the White Sox have inked the former pitcher, whose last full year was 2009 . . .

Believe-it-or-not dept.: Jeff Francoeur is the top candidate to replace injured Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown (Achilles tendinitis) . . .

Both Boston and Houston will swap a position player for a pitcher . . .

Veteran lefty Barry Zito is back where he began, with the Oakland A’s, but will relieve this time around . . .

With eight home runs this spring, Kris Bryant is laying claim to the National League Rookie of the Year Award before the season starts — providing the Cubs don’t send him down to save a year of service time . . .

Watch out for an unknown San Diego outfielder named Tommy Medina, who’s been lighting up the Cactus League . . .

Michael Cuddyer, 36, played only 49 games for Colorado last year but swung a potent bat when healthy, prompting the Mets to pay him a relatively paltry $10.5 million per season . . .

If spring training is an accurate barometer, lefty reliever Andrew Miller (Yankees) will have a better year than righty starter Shelby Miller (Braves), who is no relation . . .

Shelby Miller is trying to adjust to Atlanta this spring

Shelby Miller is trying to adjust to Atlanta this spring

James McCann, Detroit’s rookie receiver, has the same stature, same number, and same position as Brian McCann of the Yankees but is not related . . .

Lefty pitchers are so coveted that Tampa Bay signed reliever Jonny Venters, the victim of three Tommy John surgeries . . .

Foul strikes fowl redux: duplicating the 1983 collision between a Dave Winfield liner and a seagull in flight, Detroit’s James McCann sent a bird to an untimely demise – and into the first row of seats – during a game at Disney World . . .

Former Marlins standout Dontrelle Willis, he of the excessively large head, has finally retired at age 33 . . .

Boston’s best bet for the future might be 19-year-old second baseman Yoan Moncada, who had 13 extra-base hits in 45 games in Cuba last year . . .

An epidemic of pink eye has forced the Milwaukee Brewers to ban high-fives, at least for the moment . . .

Baltimore will miss Nelson Cruz, who signed with Seattle Obsssports)

Baltimore will miss Nelson Cruz, who signed with Seattle
Obsssports)

Without Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis, the Orioles are unlikely to duplicate their 2014 mark of 211 home runs, tops in the majors . . .

Baltimore is the sixth team to train in Sarasota, following the Giants, Dodgers, Red Sox, White Sox, and Reds . . .

Four of the eight regulars for the Washington Nationals are changing positions this year, with Ryan Zimmerman moving from third to first; Yunel Escobar from short to second; Jayson Werth from right to left; and Bryce Harper from left to right . . .

Change has also come to South Florida, where the Miami Marlins have turned over three-quarters of their infield, adding third baseman Martin Prado, second baseman Dee Gordon, and first baseman Michael Morse to returning shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria . . .

Although the Fish have never deployed a brother tandem, that could change this year with infielder Donovan Solano and catcher Jhonathan . . .

New Washington ace Max Scherzer, chosen to start Opening Day over Stephen Strasburg, leads all active starters with a lifetime average of 9.59 strikeouts per nine innings . . .

Once more for the record: Miami is paying Giancarlo Stanton $325 million in a 13-year deal that has an opt-out clause after six seasons . . .

Giancarlo Stanton is the pre-season favorite for the NL home run crown

Giancarlo Stanton is the pre-season favorite for the NL home run crown

The original Washington Senators, owned by Calvin Griffith, were the last team to desegregate their Grapefruit League spring training accommodations . . .

The Mets and Red Sox have seven players each, most in the majors, in the Top 100 prospects list produced by Baseball America . . .

Rookie shortstop Matt Reynolds, who hit .355 in Double-A and .333 in Triple-A last year, has made a strong impression in Mets camp this spring.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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